Five fears that immobilise leaders

fear word made from vintage letterpress type on burned wood background

High-profile business leaders, just like everyone else, are often plagued with persistent fears and anxieties. However, for many of these leaders – placed in positions of great power, influencer and responsibility – admitting to these fears can be incredibly difficult.

In order for business leaders to overcome their fears and move forward confidently and successfully, they first need to “own” and recognise the nature of their doubts and fears.  I have identified five common fears that have immobilised even the most accomplished leaders and how they can move past them and become more confident and successful than ever.

1. Am I smart and savvy enough?

Many leaders are secretly afraid that they are not knowledgeable enough or equipped in certain areas to manage the task ahead of them. They fear that they will not have the intellectual savvy and skills to make the right decisions, at the right time.

Leaders should remain focused on their guiding mission – and take the focus off of them. Build on and grow a specific area of knowledge and expertise, and find the right people and teams to assist in those areas where competence or experience may be lacking.

2. Will I be rejected?

As individuals, we only fear rejection from people whom we have somehow, for some reason, placed ourselves “beneath”. This subordinate position (real or perceived) makes us frightened of the other’s opinion – and this is common amongst business leaders who perceive counterparts or rivals to be more successful than them.

The key is to stop comparing and measuring oneself against others and instead measure/compare their actions against their own vision. We are not here to live in the shadows – we are here to stand on the shoulders of giants!

3. Will I lose money?

This can be a hugely debilitating and paralysing fear – as the pressure to bring in profits is usually ever-present, and encouraged at all costs.

But we must remember that we only make money when we truly serve people. So for business leaders who are facing this fear, I urge them to get back to their initial vision and mission, which should be about serving the customer and making their lives better. This way, the fear of losing money can quickly turn into a blessing – as it hopefully redirects leaders back to their true passion and personal mission.

4. Will I have enough energy and vitality?

This fear becomes particularly acute and scary for those who are being threatened by younger, more tech-savvy professionals looking to make their mark. In today’s fast paced and digitally driven work environment, many often feel overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the furious pace.

Again, the problem here is in measuring themselves against others instead of against their own goals and business mission. My advice is always to have faith in your own skills and experience, stay true to your mission, and where necessary – hire and partner with those individuals who can bring competency in the areas where gaps lie.

5. Will I have to go against my moral compass/ethics?

Often, business leaders find themselves in tough situations whereby they are forced to choose between being honest – and losing profit or market share – or being dishonest for a short-term gain.

In such cases, it is important to stay true to their own moral compass and follow their instincts. It is always when we lose sight of our own mission and values that we stray into dangerous and potentially harmful territory.

Fear means you’re growing and challenging yourself beyond your comfort zones. Your fear is a feedback response to ensure you set more congruent and inspiring objectives. I have fears almost every day, but I know that my fears are incomplete views of what is actually happening and are offering me great feedback to my incongruencies, or unrealistic expectations. So I identify my fears, bring them to balance, and then utilise or walk through them. Give yourself permission to do the same.

Dr John Demartini, Founder, The Demartini Institute